Istanbul offers an impressive range of luxury hotels, from classic venues in Ottoman Empire buildings to contemporary boutique establishments. They make perfect places to relax, whatever style you choose. Shop the souks and take in many of the city’s diverse sights, then wind down in your hotel spa or hammam or enjoy an in-room treatment
Istanbul is one of the world’s most colourful cities and there’s rich variety to see and do, from taking in the Blue Mosque and exploring the Grand Bazaar to visiting the remarkable İstanbul Modern art gallery and wandering the cool Galata neighbourhood. However, discovering a different culture can be tiring, so be sure to have some luxurious accommodation lined up.
You could opt to stay at a world-famous hotel chain such as the Ritz-Carlton or you may prefer a boutique venue like the Witt Istanbul Hotel. Find the place that’s right for you with our edit of the top six Istanbul hotels.
The Ritz-Carlton Istanbul
Providing luxury in its truest form, the Ritz-Carlton Istanbul is located in the affluent Dolmabahçe district and reflects the opulence and service traditions that both the Ottoman Empire and the Ritz-Carlton group were built on. It has many enticing facilities including a seasonal outdoor spa, an indoor spa complete with a beautiful hamman, and a big indoor swimming pool. Its Atelier Real Food restaurant offers farm-to-table dishes, international wines, cocktails and Mediterranean-inspired snacks – all of which can be enjoyed while sitting on a terrace that offers some of the city’s most spectacular views over the Bosphorus.
The Ritz-Carlton Istanbul, Asker Ocaği Caddesi 36, Şişli, Istanbul, +90 (0)212 334 4444
Four Seasons Sultanahmet
This world-renowned hotel is set in the heart of Istanbul’s old town, Sultanahmet, and is close to many of the city’s unmissable attractions such as the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia. It is a place of wonderful flamboyance; the building was once a prison ‒ and was painstakingly refurbished for luxury living in the 90s. The 65 bedrooms are rather larger and more lavishly devised than the original cells; all are exquisitely decorated and many have balconies. Head to the rooftop terrace for panoramic views over the Bosphorus and the Sea of Marmara.
Four Seasons Sultanahmet, Tevkifhane Sokak 1, Sultanahmet, Istanbul, +90 (0)212 402 3000
Georges Hotel Galata
This ultra-cool hotel is in the colourful old European quarter, just steps from medieval Galata Tower. Surrounded by trendy bars, cafés and chic restaurants, it is perfectly positioned for those who want to stroll and explore. But make time, too, to enjoy the style and atmosphere of the Georges. It is set in a 19th-century apartment building, with many original features retained and offset contemporary-chic furnishings. There are huge windows, wooden floors and leather sofas. Most of the 20 bedrooms offer stunning views of the Bosphorus, and all have marble-clad bathrooms and amenities such as Nespresso machines and iPad docking stations.
Georges Hotel Galata, Serdar-ı Ekrem Caddesi 24, Beyoğlu, Istanbul, +90 (0)212 244 2423
Shangri-La Bosphorus is strikingly housed in a former tobacco warehouse on the western banks of the Bosphorus. The building, dating from 1929, was painstakingly saved from dereliction and opened as a hotel in 2013, its interior fabulously redevised with chinoiserie wallpapers, chandeliers and marble floors. Shangri-La Bosphorus offers exception service, a renowned spa with a hammam, and two acclaimed restaurants ‒ Shang Palace for Cantonese fine dining and Ist Too specialising in Asian-Mediterranean fusion food (it also serves impressive breakfasts). The hotel is in the ever-more vibrant Beşiktaş district.
Shangri-La Bosphorus, Hayrettin İskelesi Sokak 1, Beşiktaş, Istanbul, +90 (0)212 275 8888
If you’re looking for Turkish character and charm, Hotel Sultania is the place for you. The exterior gives little clue as to the audacious interior design complete with gold damask furnishings and oriental features. Ottoman-style paintings hang in most rooms. Staff are second to none and are on hand to lend advice about local bars, restaurants and attractions. They will even negotiate taxi rates for you. The basement spa offers an inviting swimming pool, first-class treatments and a fitness arena as well as a (Finnish) sauna and a (Turkish) hamman.
Hotel Sultania, Mehmet Murat Sokak 4, Sirkeci, Istanbul, +90 (0)212 528 0806
Witt Istanbul Hotel
Boutique Witt Istanbul Hotel is in the charming Cihangir area of the vibrant Beyoğlu neighbourhood. It’s off the tourist track and pretty much hidden from view, which makes it feel almost like a member’s club. Step inside, however, and the service is so welcoming there’s no feeling of exclusivity. Autoban, one of Turkey’s top young interior design companies, has kitted out the bedrooms with bespoke furniture that oozes discreet modernist elegance. This hotel is the perfect balance of Ottoman tradition and avant-garde cool. But it’s not all about style; the services are impressive, too. Breakfast ‒ taken to your room or served in the lobby ‒ is made with organic local produce. There are in-room kitchenettes and a rooftop bar. There’s no restaurant but with a wide selection of eateries within walking distance that’s no hardship. You’ll find everything here that you’d want from an upscale boutique hotel.
Witt Istanbul Hotel, Defterdar Yokuşu 26, Beyoğlu, Istanbul, +90 (0)212 293 1500